Understanding California’s Resisting Arrest Laws

resisting arrest

Obstructing law enforcement or medical personnel from doing their jobs is against the law in California. If you’ve been charged with resisting arrest, talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to determine if the charges rightly apply to your case. 

Resisting arrest is a charge that you frequently hear in crime shows on television, but how much do you really know about resisting arrest charges? Unless you or a loved one is facing resisting arrest charges in California, you probably know little about what is included under the charge and the punishment you could face with a conviction. 

What are the California Resisting Arrest Laws? 

The California Penal Code 148 PC provides this definition of resisting arrest: 

“Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

What is Considered Resisting Arrest Under the Law? 

Most people think that resisting arrest only applies to situations in which a person attempts to obstruct a police officer from taking them into custody. However, the law is more expansive than that. A person can be convicted of this crime when resisting the work of a police or peace officer or an emergency medical technician (EMT). Peace officers can include deputy sheriffs, state troopers, special agents and generally, any person in a position where they carry a badge and have the ability to make an arrest. 

The prosecution must prove specific elements of the crime took place in order to get a conviction including: 

  • The person willfully obstructed the police officer, peace officer or EMT;
  • The person obstructed the police officer, peace officer or EMT while they were doing their jobs; and, 
  • The person knew or should have reasonably known that the officer or EMT was performing their duties.  

Penalties for a Resisting Arrest Conviction 

In the state of California, resisting arrest is a misdemeanor offense with penalties that may include: 

  • Prison time of up to one year in county jail
  • Fines of up to $1000

In some cases, the judge may grant misdemeanor probation, also known as summary probation. Defendants will be required to check in with the judge periodically and to abide by certain conditions such as community service or counseling.  

Defenses Against Resisting Arrest Charges 

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help you craft a strong defense depending on the circumstances of your case. If successful, a good defense can result in dropped or reduced charges. Some common defenses to a resisting arrest charge include: 

  • The obstruction of the officer or EMT was not willful.
  • The defendant was falsely accused. 
  • The initial arrest was unlawful.
  • The defendant was not aware that the individual was an officer or EMT, or that they were performing the duties of their job. 

Get Help Fighting Your Resisting Arrest Charges 

When you or a loved one is facing resisting arrest charges in California, it is critical that you secure an experienced, skilled criminal defense attorney to stand by your side. At the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein, our attorney has extensive experience working in the San Diego courts and fighting for justice for her clients. Resisting arrest charges can come with fines and jail time that will take you away from your work and family. Fight your charges with the help of attorney Joni Eisenstein – Oceanside California criminal defense attorney.